Synopses & Reviews
Bel Ami, written at the height of Guy de Maupassant’s powers, is a classic novel of seduction, intrigue, and ruthless social climbing in belle époque Paris.
Georges Duroy is a down-and-out journalist from a humble background who engineers a stunning rise to the top of Parisian society through his relationships with influential and wealthy women. Making the most of his charm and good looks (his admirers nickname him “Bel Ami”), Duroy exploits the weaknesses of others to his own advantage—in the process betraying the woman who has most selflessly supported him. Published in 1885, Bel Ami is not only a vivid portrait of a glamorously corrupt and long-vanished Paris, but also a strikingly modern exposé of the destructiveness of unconstrained ambition, sex, and power.
Translated from the French by Ernest Boyd
Maupassant's second novel, Bel-Ami (1885) is the story of a ruthlessly ambitious young man (Georges Duroy, christened Bel-Ami by his female admirers) making it to the top in fin-de-sihcle Paris. It is a novel about money, sex, and power, set against the background of the politics of the French colonization of North Africa. It explores the dynamics of an urban society uncomfortably close to our own and is a devastating satire of the sleaziness of contemporary journalism.
Bel-Ami enjoys the status of an authentic record of the apotheosis of bourgeois capitalism under the Third Republic. But the creative tension between its analysis of modern behavior and its identifiably late nineteenth-century fabric is one of the reasons why Bel-Ami remains one of the finest French novels of its time, as well as being recognized as Maupassant's greatest achievement as a novelist.
This new translation is complemented by fullest introduction and notes of any edition currently available.
About the Author
The French writer Guy de Maupassant (1850-93), a protégé of Flaubert, was known for his hugely influential short stories and the vivid realism of his novels. He was born in Normandy and served in the Franco-Prussian War, which would become the subject of some of his best-known stories. Maupassant wrote six novels and nearly three hundred stories, among them “The Necklace,” “Boule de Suif,” “The Horla,” and “Mademoiselle Fifi.” His financial and critical success as a writer made him a prominent figure in fashionable society, but in his last few years he suffered mental and physical symptoms of the syphilis he had contracted in his early years. After a suicide attempt in 1892 he was committed to a private asylum, where he died the following year at the age of 42.